Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Getting There {Travel with a Young Toddler}

Aaaaaaaand we're back!

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We had a seriously fantastical time in Jackson Hole.

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I think we're likely the most spoiled Texans ever... to spend almost three weeks away... being able to really  explore and "get to know" a new-to-us place... sitting on car seats and playground slides without scorching our ever-lovin' rump roasts off.

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I'm working on a proper recap {with preemptive apologies to friends who've already suffered through the endless stream of smug vacation photos on Facebook and Instagram}, but Flickr is giving my iPhone a bugger of a time {way to drag the big ass camera all the way to Wyoming and fail to take a single photo with it, memory-making-genius} {that said, damn, the iPhone 5 features a great little camera - so glad I upgraded prior to this trip} {MORE PARENTHESIS}.  

In the interim, please enjoy yet another Travel with Toddler post.  I know, I know, this horse done been beat a quatrazillion times, but, as a mama and semi-frequent traveler, I always enjoy reading them.  Plus, I'd say a good 95% of our travel sanity-savers are blogger-recs, so... paying it forward, sharing means caring, yada yada yada. 

We've flown with L a fair amount -- by the time she was 5 months old, she'd added an international stamp to her tiny passport and traveled twice more out of state.  While those trips were stressful from a "ohsweetbabyjesus-this-seems-like-such-a-massive-ordeal-because-we're-newly-minted-parents" standpoint, in hindsight, we had it so good with that squishy nugget.  We basically popped her on the boob and tried to remain as stationary as possible while she nursed and snoozed.  Awkward having half your chest exposed for 3 hours?  Somewhat, but way less awkward than being Those Parents with the Banshee Baby... 

...Which is exactly what we're about 10 seconds from being every moment of every flight we've taken since L became mobile {thankfully, those have been limited to the 35 minute breezes to Austin}.  Hyperbole, yes, but it certainly feels as if we're constantly teetering on the edge of Mega Meltdown anytime we corral our kidlet.

Thus, I knew we were going to need a few reliable stand-bys as well as some new goodies to keep everyone happy, entertained, and quietish whilst in the air on the way to Jackson {a three hour flight... I am in awe of you mamas that have traveled overseas with your toddlers -- exuberant golf claps all around!}.  Here's what worked for us at 16 months {and a one thing that didn't}. 

iPad + Finding Nemo
A bit of a no-brainer, but for a child whose kooky, faux-hippie parents don't allow regular screen time, having unbridled access to the iPad was a real treat for L.  Of the few things she's viewed in the past, nothing tickles her more than Finding Nemo {"momo"}, so we downloaded those lovable fishy-friends and were good to go for about 30 minutes at a time.  Of course, now, every time anyone tries to check their email, L holds out her little hand like Oliver Twist, busts out the puppy-dog-eyes, and requests "momo? momo?"  Awesome.  I do wish we had practiced with headphones prior to leaving {we purchased these guys - Califone Listening First Stereo Headphones*} as she did not tolerate them at all. Thankfully, planes are loud and hearing every syllable animated sea creatures utter was not a high priority when there were SO MANY QUICKLY MOVING SHAPES to watch.

Snacks + In-Flight Beverage Cups
Another no-brainer.  I packed two applesauce pouches {we like GoGo Squeez} for L to suck on during take-off and landing to help with her ears {plus a straw sippy of water}, and then a bunch of small eats that are easy to dole out a few at a time on the tray table {allowing us to really streeeeeetch out snack time} -- our arsenal included raisins, Cheerios, and Annie's cheddar bunnies.  Sucking on {non-choking-hazard-sized} ice is also a Big Freakin' Deal for L, so we hit the flight attendants up for 2 cups of the good stuff... and then we put snacks in and out of the empty cups and stacked the empty cups and chewed on the empty cups.  Basically: EMPTY CUPS YAY.

Ultimate Sticker Book*

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Of the new purchases, these were the biggest hits by far {thank you, Emily, for recommending this and several of the other items here!}.  I picked two with themes that mirror L's current interests {the aforementioned Momo and dogs}, and she absolutely loved them {both on the plane and in the car during our trip}.  We stuck stickers on the windows {aquariums! pet shops!}, tray table, armrests, our faces, all our currently-identifiable body parts {"can you put Dorey on your knee?""}, etc.  The stickers are reusable {which basically translates to "not all that sticky"}, so it was easy to peel off two or three at a time and use those for a good while before peeling a few more... basically, you can make one book last forever if you have a kid who isn't old enough to really understand that one could potentially peel all 60 of the stickers off at once. Highly recommend. 

Books

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Like most children her age, L is big on books.  For the flight, I packed three interactive books {Soft Shapes Book: Animals*; Where Is Baby's Belly Button?*; and Flaptastic: Colors*} and one of her all-time favorites {Go, Dogs. Go!: P.D. Eastman's Book of Things That Go*}.  Baby's Belly Button {by the evil Karen Katz - uggggg I hate her damn books so hard} and Flaptastic: Colors are your standard life-the-flap books -- a concept I appreciate because we can read them, then lift the flaps over and over, and then talk about the different objects in them.  The focus is TIME CONSUMPTION, here - not the absolute best plotline.  The Soft Shapes book was a gift from GranJan, and is seriously one of L's most favorite things ever... It's basically a book made of foam, and the shapes on each page {in this case, barnyard animals} pull out to reveal the corresponding sound beneath.  Super, super simple, but pulling those animals out is apparently the most fun thing of all time.  The chicken seems particularly delicious to chew on.  This book basically lives in our car when we're not traveling.  Go Dogs Go is another great time-suck... we read it, we identify all the words L knows, we laugh at the dogs, we talk about what the dogs are doing at the dog party {oops, gave away the ending}, etc.

Mini Magazines


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You know how your great aunt has a bunch of musty old Prevention and Readers Digest magazines?  The ones that are teensy-tinsy?  As if a yard gnome might need a backlog of appropriately-sized reading material?  Yeah, grab a few of those and toss them in the general vicinity of your munchkin.  Hopefully he or she will be as pleased as L is to lay hands on Lilliputian 'zines ripe for the turnin' {and tearin'}.

Mardi Gras Beads


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We are big fans of Mardi Gras beads in general.  On the plane, we took them on and off, looped them around our wrists, put them in and out of empty in-flight beverage cups {EMPTY CUPS!}, rattled them against the tray table, etc. 

This set comes highly recommended from all corners of the Blogosphere.  I am pleased we purchased it for at-home play {and it really was a great toy to pack for a trip - easily collapsible and light and all that good stuff}, but it was sadly not a hit on the plane.  It was especially not a parental hit, as L tends to throw things when she's finished with them {a long-standing homefront battle}, which translates to Mom & Dad Frantically Attempt to Collect All the Piggies. 

Logistically Speaking... 
Aside from the items my Wannabe Mary Poppins Carry-On of Wonders, I'll pass along two more tidbits... First, if you're flying out of a decent-sized airport, check to see if any kids' play areas are offered {DFW offers one in each terminal -- info that was super easy to Google beforehand}.  We allow for a decent chunk of extra time at the airport when wrangling baby gear, so a safe place to shake off toddler energy while we wait to board our flight is a welcome amenity.  Second, if available, paying extra for the seats with added legroom is such a sanity-saving luxury.  On the way to WY, we paid $15 a piece to have 5 more inches, which enabled us to put our tray tables down all the way even with L seated in our laps.  Doesn't sound like a big deal, but we could tell a huge difference on our return flight when those seats weren't available {although we ended up lucking out as no passenger was assigned the third seat in our pod - score bigtime!}. 

What other tricksand/or treats do you have up your sleeve to ensure Happy Toddler Travel? 

*denotes affiliate linkage

7 comments:

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  2. OK...my son is 4 1/2 and STILL loves that Three Little Pig set!! It will last forever!

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  3. I never realized how infant travel would techinically be easier than toddler travel! What would I do without you blazing the tempura cruchy Dallas motherhood trail? Glad that you had a great trip!

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  4. Ahh, your trip looked so fantastic. We have resorted to mall playground daily because it is so damn hot. I have been checking out your hiking photos and seething with envy.

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  5. Seeing as how we leave in 3 days for our own family vacay, this was perfectly timed! I ordered up several of your suggestions, as dogs and stickers are still hot tickets around these parts at 22 months. But, I also have to ask about the holy grail...how did L sleep??

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    1. She actually did WAY better than expected! We had a PNP and I really thought it would be a huge fail (actually had the number for a place to rent a crib but didn't need it), but she didn't mind at all. Since we were in a condo, she had her own "room" (the office space) and we rigged a thick blanket over the blinds since it stays light until about 10 pm in WY. We had her white noise machine, lovey, and one of the stuffed animals she sleeps with at home. She woke up earlier than normal, but rocked her naps -- I think being outside constantly helped too! Good luck with your travels - I hope they go smoothly!

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  6. This age is the hardest. Total mobility, no understanding. So nervous to fly with my 15 month old and three year old in a few weeks. Seriously considering investing in an ipod just for this trip.

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happy little comments!